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Crafty Christmas stocking kits teach kids textile design

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Pupils at schools in Swansea and South Wales are learning about textile design by making Christmas stockings using cloth kits created by students at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

The project is part of UWTSD’s schools outreach work, which aims to raise the profile of Surface Pattern and Textiles, giving pupils a taste of what it would be like to study the subject.

It’s also hoped that post Covid-19, the Christmas stocking project will grow, and pupils will be able to make and sell batches of stockings to raise money for their schools, as well as giving away filled stockings for charity.

The cloth kits make it easy for the pupils to make their own Christmas stockings: all they have to do is cut out the pre-printed shapes and sew them together. The attractive designs on the stockings were created by fourth year students at the university and printed onto fabric donated by clothing company TOAST. The students also created a digital download giving instructions for how to make the stockings, and a film showing the whole process, giving pupils a glimpse inside their studio and insight into what the Surface Pattern and Textiles course involves.

“The purpose of the video was to show how the kits are being made and printed in the workshops, because usually this is the time of year when we would be inviting the pupils into the university for taster days,” said Georgia McKie, senior lecturer in Surface Pattern and Textiles, who co-ordinated the project. “This is an alternative gesture, and making the film was a lovely learning opportunity for our fourth-year students. I’m very impressed with their work on this project, which formed part of their Creative Enterprise and Practice module. They worked as team and played to their strengths: some are great digitally, some are great at understanding pattern cutting, while others excel at screen printing. None had prior experience in putting a video together, but they became competent at it.”

So far, the project has seen cloth kits go out to Gowerton School in Swansea, where a fourth year UWTSD student also ran an accompanying workshop for year 9 and 10 pupils, and to St Clare’s Senior School in Porthcawl, whose Head of Art, Louise Williams (a UWTSD Surface Pattern and Textiles graduate herself) praised the resources made by the students, which were used in a session titled ‘A morning in the life of a Surface Pattern Design student’.

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“Our Art and Design students have had a fabulous morning and thoroughly enjoyed their textile taster session today, in conjunction with the incredible BA and MDes (Hons) Surface Pattern Design degree in Swansea,” she said.

“A morning in the life of a Surface Pattern Design student’ meant they had the opportunity to make the pre-printed, screen printed stockings from kits provided by the Surface Pattern Design department. They also loved the sustainable aspect of the stockings which were screen-printed onto waste fabric donated by TOAST. We have many students who go onto follow this degree course, one being Zara James, who is a past pupil of ours and now part of the team behind this initiative #haveyougottheedge?”

In addition to going to schools, kits have been sent to students at Cardiff and Vale College, and further afield to colleges in Bath and Southport. They have also been delivered to course applicants and people who would usually be attending open days at the university. In addition, instructions for making your own kit are available for anyone to download online.

Georgia is delighted by the students’ efforts and ingenuity and has enjoyed collaborating with former students like Louise who have become schoolteachers and were keen to get their classes involved. These alumni are part of a strong network of UWTSD Surface Pattern and Textiles graduates who remain in touch with the university and take part in activities to help to inspire undergraduates and potential new students.

“We see ourselves as a community – in the 20 years of the programme we have gathered people along the way, many of whom now come back to speak to our students about their careers,” says Georgia. “It’s part of the DNA of the programme, and going into schools and colleges is an important part of sharing that warmth.”

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Business

The Secret Hospitality Group provides enterprise education programme to three Swansea schools

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The Secret Hospitality Group is thanking the local community for its support during COVID by providing the Bumbles of Honeywood enterprise education programme to three local primary schools – The Grange Primary School, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwynderw and Brynmill Primary School.

Created by Swansea-based 2B Enterprising Ltd, The Bumbles of Honeywood is a suite of bilingual resources mapped to the national curriculum to help primary schools embed enterprise skills into their day-to-day learning. It’s delivered in schools via the 2B Enterprising Corporate Engagement Partner programme, which pairs businesses with local schools.

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As Corporate Engagement Partners, members of The Secret Hospitality Group have been visiting The Grange, Llwynderw and Brynmill primary schools to introduce the Bumbles of Honeywood programme and talk to pupils about what it’s like to run a business.

Cultivating entrepreneurship and enterprise skills from a young age has been shown to be of huge value in equipping pupils for their future lives and careers – and it’s now required as part of the national curriculum in Wales.

The Secret Hospitality Group is an example of entrepreneurship in action. It started life in 2017 with one venue, The Optimist in Uplands. In 2019 the company won the tender to run The Secret on Swansea seafront, and since then it has also taken on The Green Room next to Swansea Arena and the iconic Castellamare restaurant at Bracelet Bay.

Now the group has sold The Optimist to focus on landmark locations, creating venues that are as memorable as the views. As the company’s strapline says, “the view is just a bonus.”

The company was founded by brother and sister Lucy and Ryan Hole, who have since been joined by their siblings Amy and Tom. During the COVID lockdowns the team ran a coffee kiosk on the seafront in Swansea and the experience made them feel even more connected with the local community. Now they want to give something back by supporting three local schools.

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“Opening the kiosk was a turning point for us during the pandemic,” says Lucy. “We had such a great response from the community, and they rallied round when the kiosk was vandalised. The kiosk became a real hub and the beach just became alive. Now we want to give back to the community as a thank you for what they did for us during that hard time.”

Lucy and her siblings have chosen to support The Grange, Llwynderw and Brynmill primary schools because they are local to them and they have family links with two of them.

All the Hole siblings attended Brynmill Primary School, as did their father Greg Hole, who has run local news agents including Uplands News for decades. His father and grandfather, who ran the businesses before him, also attended Brynmill Primary School.

“We grew up in Uplands and used to walk through Brynmill Park to get to the school,” says Lucy. “We have really fond memories of the school, and all the teachers knew who we were because generations of the family had been there. It was a lovely school.”

Amy’s children attend The Grange Primary School and the family decided to also support Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwynderw to help bring The Bumbles of Honeywood to a local Welsh medium school too.

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The Hole siblings have gone into each school to meet with the children, talk about their businesses and introduce the Bumbles of Honeywood programme. They have also welcomed children to their businesses so they can learn more about how restaurants are run.

“The children were great,” says Lucy. “They wanted to learn and asked a lot of good questions. They were eager to learn the skills taught by the Bumbles of Honeywood programme: to be confident, brave, kind and strong.”

She and Ryan also enjoyed being able to demonstrate that there are many different paths to forging a successful career: it doesn’t have to include going to university.

“We didn’t excel at school, but I think making pupils aware of the different routes they can take is really important,” says Lucy.

2B Enterprising founder Sue Poole, welcomes their contribution.

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“It’s really important for the children to meet and talk to homegrown talent,” she says. “Lucy and her sister and brothers are local entrepreneurs who show the children what you can achieve if you work hard and support each other.

“It’s about the support you have from your family, your community, with everybody working together, businesses will succeed.

“The Secret Hospitality Group is a young company that started off with one small restaurant in the Uplands and is now opening iconic venues right across Swansea Bay.

“It’s exciting from that perspective, and because of the history of the family, who have been entrepreneurial for probably over 100 years, I think they’re really great role models for young people.”

Lead image: Children from The Grange Primary School visit Castellamare with (L-R) Lucy Hole, The Secret Hospitality Group, Abigail Cooper, Operations Co-ordinator, 2B Enterprising, Mrs Tucker, Teaching Assistant, Ms Suff, Teacher, Mrs Minty, Year 1 & Year 2 Teacher and Mrs Griffiths, Year 1 & Year 2 Teaching Assistant.

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Business

Duo of award wins for Swansea-headquartered Uplands Communications

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Long-established telephony and IT specialist, Uplands Communications, is celebrating a pair of wins at the prestigious Mobile News Awards 2022, where the firm was recognised in the Customer Service and the Reseller with Under 50 Employees categories. 

The firm, which has a 40-plus year history in Swansea, and opened a second office in Somerset this year, was up against some of the biggest names in the mobile industry, going head-to-head with multi billion pound network, EE, in the 5G Application category.

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Paul Hooper, Uplands MD, said: “We are delighted to come home from the Mobile News Awards with two awards and we are particularly pleased that one of these categories is for Best Customer Service.

“These past two years of global disruption for business and for consumers has taught us all how vital it is for firms of all kinds and across all sectors to provide the best quality customer care they can, in order to retain valued custom.

“A very large part of our role as telephony and IT providers is to support our customers with their communications systems, so they are easily accessible and so their interface with their customers and clients is as seamless as possible. 

“Our customers have relied particularly heavily upon us in recent years for this. We were pleased that, when awarding us in the Best B2B Reseller, the judges recognised the fact that, as a relatively small firm, we nonetheless have the expertise to serve everything from multi-million pound concerns to thriving small businesses, while maintaining the kind of small-firm ethos that sees us offer a truly tailored service.

“Being commended in the 5G category is pleasing, too, since this is a service that businesses across the board are getting to grips with and are looking to help them future-proof their operations. Again, Uplands is competing with a field of big-hitters in this field and we are proving to be a great choice to provide this service for our customers.” 

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The Mobile News Awards went ahead in London on Thursday 19 May, with 600 mobile industry guests. Uplands Communications is a leading managed services company delivering flexible voice, data and mobile communications.  

The firm specialises in independent network management and providing bespoke, converged solutions that aren’t tied to technology and supplier. 

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Swansea

Swansea’s most popular fitness classes revealed

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woman with red top and black shorts on purple yoga mat

New research from Better has revealed how Swansea and the rest of the UK have been combatting loneliness and anxiety since the pandemic, with around 1 in 2 people saying they still feel lonely since restrictions lifted.

94% say they’ve experienced benefits from exercise, saying that either going to a gym, swimming pool, taking an exercise class, or taking part in a group sport has helped with at least one the following:

  • Improved their mental health (59%)
  • Made them feel energised and boosted (48%)
  • Made me feel calmer and more relaxed (38%)
  • Made me feel part of my community (20%)
  • Made me feel less lonely (20%)

Better revealed its top 10 most popular fitness classes, and showed that when compared to pre-pandemic numbers there is now no significant difference, as people are striving to get back to normality and the same classes they found beneficial before.

Based on search trends in Swansea, pilates and yoga came out on top, with pilates seeing a 133% rise over the past year:

Fitness ClassSwansea
Monthly Search Volume
TikTok Views
Pilates210968.9 million
Yoga17011.9 billion
Zumba906.1 million
HIIT30884.5 million
Circuit Training 3021.6 million
Aqua Aerobics202.2 million
Dance Fitness10161.4 million

Better also spoke to Welsh personal trainer, Wayne Harvey, who told of his experience of gymgoers over the past few months and years, how exercise trends have shifted and how members have been impact by mental health worries.

He said: “There seems to be a significant rise in gymgoers coming in with mental health issues. We need to be aware of underlying issues and have empathy for the difficulties to ensure we have an abundance of energy to inspire them and convince them of the benefits of their fitness!

“Online classes had been popular throughout lockdown but as soon as gyms opened back up there has been a need to go back to a more social environment and workout with others which helps people’s motivation.”

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